Tigers Continue Run Of Success Against Maryland

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - Maybe the title of the movie should have been "There's Something About Maryland."

At least at Clemson, where the Tigers - losers of five in a row and seven of its last eight -busted that streak and extended another in one fell swoop Tuesday night. Shawan Robinson scored 24 points to lead four players in double figures, and the Tigers eased past visiting Maryland, 89-77.

The game was played before an announced crowd of 7,600 at Littlejohn Coliseum.

The win was Clemson's fourth straight over the Terrapins, dating back to last season's three-game series sweep. It also improved the Tigers (15-10 overall) to 4-8 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Maryland fell to 15-9 (5-6).

"Four in a row over them is probably something to be proud of," said Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell. "They had beaten us 13 straight times(and had a lot of success)during that time frame, so it's a good win for us."

It's also a victory that appeared to be a mortal lock with 10:00 left in the game, and then was in serious doubt just less than two minutes later.

Trailing 50-49 with 17:05 remaining, the Tigers went off on a 22-3 run that saw Robinson, K.C. Rivers, Julius Powell and Troy Mathis all connect from behind the 3-point arc. It was Mathis' bomb from the right wing that gave Clemson its biggest lead of the night, 71-53, with 10:06 left to go.

But by the time the clock reached 8:11, Maryland had manufactured 11 unanswered points - three free throws by Parrish Brown, 3-pointers from D.J. Strawberry and Mike Jones, and two more free throws by Nick Caner-Medley.

When Brown hit two more free throws after a TV timeout, the run for Maryland was 13-0 and Clemson's lead was sliced to 73-66.

But a free throw from Akin Akingbala and a dunk by Sam Perry pushed the lead back to 10, 76-66, at 5:46.

Maryland would get no closer than eight points the rest of the way.

"We didn't compete in the first 10 minutes of the second half," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "I had to go to a smaller lineup to scramble around and try to get back in it, and it worked for a while...But I can't play for them. As a player, they have to be prepared to play when they take the floor."

Maryland's problems defending the perimeter, a sore spot for Williams all season, were very much in evidence Tuesday night.

Clemson shot 12-of-28 from the 3-point arc (42 percent), including 5-of-9 in the second half. Robinson, who was a thorn in the Terps' side in the three victories last season, again torched the Maryland defense with 5-of-10 from behind the arc.

"Robinson's a good player," Williams said. "But we haven't guarded anybody all year."

Meanwhile, Akingbala continued to provide a solid inside presence. The senior center finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds; he also blocked five shots and even handed out five assists.

"His (Akingbala's) play caused them to (cheat) a little inside," Purnell said. "Then it was a matter of screening well at the top and balancing the floor. When we did that we got good shots."

Cliff Hammonds also had a solid night for Purnell's club, finishing with 17 points. Rivers added 10.

Caner-Medley topped Maryland with 21 points, while Jones added 19.

Clemson played without starting point guard Vernon Hamilton, who sat out with a sprained thumb and a slight fracture in his elbow. Purnell said that if the swelling on the thumb goes down and the pain in the elbow decreases, it's possible Hamilton could return in time for the Tigers' next game - next Wednesday at Wake Forest.

The 15th win should qualify the Tigers for the postseason for the second year in a row.

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